Marines looking to replace M249

Marines looking to replace the SAW with an “Infantry Automatic Rifle”. They’re citing the issues with the M249’s weight and accuracy, and looking to replace it with a lighter, more accurate automatic rifle. According to the linked article, the new IAR would utilize the same 30 round STANAG magazines that the M16/M4 uses.

I have mixed feelings about this – on the one hand, no one wants to lug a 22 pound SAW around. On the other hand, if I were an infantry platoon commander, I would hate to lose the ability to put out the sheer volume of fire that you can do with said M249 and a 200 round belt.

I do find it amusing though that squad automatic weapon concept has come full circle. Starting with the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), which used the standard service cartridge at the time, it evolved into the M60, then the M249, and now the circle has been completed with the push towards the Infantry Automatic Rifle…which is essentially the same concept as a BAR, just updated for modern equipment and ammo.


  1. Despite the headlines, the Marines are only looking to replace SOME SAWs in SOME units. Though figures from various sources are all over the place, it looks like around 25% or so of the M249s will potentially be replaced by SAWs.

    My guess is that if/when the Marines find themselves in heavier sustained operations against a modern enemy, they may decide they don’t really like a heavy M-16 for their SAW.

    It’s not going to have a quick-change barrel, and the Marines said that won’t be a problem because the rate of fire will be much lower. The Army looked at the idea and said “no thanks.”

    Generally, I side with the Marines on decisions like this, but I don’t know what they’re thinking here. But what do I know?

  2. Like I said – if there is a gunfight coming, I want to be able to put as much hot lead on the badguy as possible. All of a sudden, that 22 pound SAW is looking mighty light as I use it to hold off a numerically superior force.

  3. Sounds like they need new barrels if they are having accuracy problems. The M249 is known for being a highly accurate LMG. I can remember making 400m body shots at night using an AN/PVS-4 scope.

  4. Well, there was that video from some History Channel show. (Wish I saved the link.) The problem with the long tall M249 is that it isn’t so maneuverable while breaching, so its rate of fire in that situation is effectively zero.

    Then there was the Powerpoint presentation about updating weapons inventory. I would be surprised if the Corps got anywhere near 25 percent replacement before they came home. You know, bureaucracy and all.

    It sure would be nice if the Marines got dibs on the money before it disappeared into the unaccountable deep, dark pit of “reconstruction”. Only a fraction of the funds that evaporated would be needed to bring IARs to the field.

  5. This is a mistake. The M249 is a good weapon in my experience, and with one per fire team it provides the rifle squad with a lot of firepower. M16A4’s already provide the precision firepower, but you also need volume of fire.

  6. My main heartburn with the SAW is not accuracy (after all that’s why you have 200rd belts), its robustness and reliability.

    I recall a range trip in which we brought 10 SAWs to the range, and at the end of the day we had only 2 functional weapons.

    Also, in combat, weapons get dropped. I don’t think my company had a single SAW without a broken safety, stock, or sights. The standard barrel heatshields suck, most gunners just took them off or got the picatinny replacements that bolted on.

  7. I agree with LM,

    Most of our SAW’s in Iraq had broken heat shields, loose stocks, and you can ride the bolt forward even though the safety is on.

    And lets not forget about being in the prone with 3 or 4 drums on your chest in full kit!

    But when it comes time to rock and roll, the SAW does it’s job well.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: